Roger Waters, live and 'In the Flesh'

A CNN WorldBeat Report
Web posted on:
Monday, September 20, 1999

(CNN) -- It's been a dozen years since Pink Floyd founder Roger Waters last toured, a dozen years in which his dazzling stage productions -- particularly for Pink Floyd's "The Wall" in Berlin, marking German reunification -- have become the stuff of music history.

Now, inspired by a project he did in 1992 for Don Henley's Walden Woods benefit, he's designed another multimedia, light-and-sound show for his own tour. "In the Flesh" ran along the East Coast from late July through August, and is expected to tour on the West Coast in spring 2000.

"I was going to be over here anyway, on holiday with my family," said the British-born Waters. "And I thought, 'Well, let's talk to some promoters and see if they think there's a tour out there.' So we did and they did, and it's just kind of grown.

"The show is actually extremely simple," he continues, "because we're just using very few lights and front projection. There's no movie. This is a three-truck tour, where a big tour is like 20 trucks or 30 trucks."

The show is pretty straightforward, too: "I do four or five songs from (the 1992 album) 'Amused to Death' and a couple from the other solo things and the rest from my earlier work with Pink Floyd."

Waters was the bassist for Pink Floyd from 1965 to 1983. After dropping out, he simultaneously pursued a solo career while fighting a legal battle with the remaining members of Pink Floyd. He wanted them to abandon use of the name if he wasn't in the band; in the end, he lost.

He followed up his 1984 solo album, "The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking," with the 1987 "Radio K.A.O.S." His second album marked the last time he went on tour.

Since then, he says, "Things have changed a lot. I think people have understood a bit more about me and my life."

He may understand more about himself, as well.

"I didn't recognize I had any gift until I was 30 years old," he says. "I knew I wanted to be up on stage with people applauding. We had a band that was going and somebody had to start writing, and we all tried to write as hard as we could.

"And slowly, over the next few years, I discovered that there was stuff that I wanted to say and that it came out in a reasonably coherent form."

While Waters is sure that songs -- like all forms of art -- are about "making connections with other human beings," he isn't always sure where his come from, even after writing them for so many years.

"I get this kind of pregnant feeling, and I know that there's a song in me kind of wanting to get out," he says. "And I will then approach a piano or a guitar, get a piece of paper out and start jotting down ideas. Sometimes it might happen from some specific trigger, something I see on TV or something happens to a friend or -- you know, I don't know. And I just try and be as passive as possible and allow it to come out."

In his early days with Pink Floyd, he said that he felt that band's magical connection was "crushed beneath the weight of numbers" as the band began playing football stadiums instead of cozier venues. As Waters found himself alienated from people, he wrote "The Wall," which helped him conclude that he wanted to go in a different direction.

"So coming back on the road now and almost every night we play, it's there, it's tangible," he says of the renewed sense of magic he feels. "You can feel it, you can hold it in the palm of your hand, and it's very moving. It's been extraordinary."